Seven Years in Tibet (1997) (NTSC)

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Released 6-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 135:58
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jean-Jacques Annaud

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Brad Pitt
David Thewlis
B.D. Wong
Danny Denzongpa
Victor Wong
Ingeborga Dapkunaite
Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk
Lhakpa Tsamchoe
Jetsun Pema
Ama Ashe Dongtse
Sonam Wangchuk
Dorjee Tsering
Case ?
RPI ? Music John Williams

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Seven Years in Tibet is a lavish, absorbing, moving, and truly inspiring film that tells a beautiful story of salvation and humanity, set in one of the World's most harsh and isolated areas.

    The script for Seven Years in Tibet is based on the 1953 memoir of Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer, a former member of Hitler's beloved SS.

    Harrer (Brad Pitt) is an arrogant, selfish, and egocentric mountaineer and show-off. Amid a Nazi Germany media frenzy, Harrer's quest for fame leads him to abandon his pregnant wife to join a 1939 expedition to climb the unconquered Nanga Parbat - one of the highest peaks of the Himalayas. The German climbing team is led by Peter Aufschnaiter (David Thewlis), and there is a great deal of tension between the two, as Harrer doesn't like to take orders from anyone.

    When the climbing team return to their base camp, they discover that World War II has broken out in Europe. Harrer, Aufschnaiter, and their climbing team are all imprisoned in a POW camp in Northern India.

    Harrer and Aufschnaiter escape and spend the following years on the run in Tibet, until they find sanctuary in the holy city of Lhasa. Harrer strikes up an unlikely friendship with the young Dalai Lama (Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk). While Harrer is 'employed' to tutor the 14-year-old boy in Western science, in the story's great irony, it is Harrer who does most of the learning.

    In my very basic understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, I believe that the key to receiving enlightenment is the complete abandonment of one's ego. And it is with delicate subtlety that Producer/Director Jean-Jacques Annaud beautifully presents Harrer's spiritual transformation.

    Tragically, this peaceful land and its non-violent people are torn apart when the Chinese invade Tibet in 1950, a gross and shameful wrong which remains to this day.

    Costing about US$70 Million to make, Seven Years in Tibet is a lavish and detailed spectacle. Every aspect of the production is outstanding, but of special note the cinematography, sets, and costumes are all brilliant. In terms of the acting, Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk manages to steal the show as the young, curious, and very likeable Dalai Lama. Notably, the Dalai Lama's real sister, Jetsun Pema, plays his mother in the film with a genuine warmth.

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Transfer Quality


    Overall, I was quite pleased with the transfer, despite it being NTSC.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is good, but the shadow detail is often poor, such as during the train scene at 6:15 and inside the house at 69:19.

    The colour is good, and beautifully renders the dramatic landscapes. Sadly, as I often find with NTSC transfers of older films, the skin tones often look a little orange.

    There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. A few (mostly) small film artefacts appear throughout, and none were ever distracting. Some edge enhancement can be spotted at times, but again I never found it distracting.

    English, Spanish, and French subtitles are present, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    Surprisingly, considering the length of the film, and the three audio options (including 5.1 audio), this film is presented on a single-sided, single-layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio options: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). Strangely, the Dolby Digital stereo surround audio track is the default audio.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync is usually good on the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, but there is the odd slip. Due to the location shooting, I imagine a lot of the dialogue is looped, and this appeared obvious at times, such as during a conversation at 15:26.

    The musical score is credited to John Williams, with cello solos performed by Yo Yo Ma. In addition to Williams' beautiful score, there is a lot of authentic Tibetan source music which really adds flavour to the film.

    The surround presence and activity is a little disappointing. The 5.1 surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, and often sounds more like a stereo surround mix. Occasionally the rear speakers come to life, such as during the rain at 21:52. The subwoofer fares a lot better, and often adds a lot of punch, such as the giant Tibetan gong at 12:36, and the avalanche at 15:02.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Sadly there are no extras.


    A very simple menu, it is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Seven Years in Tibet is available in two versions in Region 1:

    Compared to the standard version (released in early 1998), the Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Compared to the SuperBit version (released in early 2003), the Region 4 DVD misses out on:

The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Considering we even get lumped with a NTSC transfer, and are deprived on any extras, clearly the R1 SuperBit is the winner.


    Seven Years in Tibet is a touching and beautifully crafted film which I will certainly be watching again in the future. If you enjoyed The Last Emperor or City of Joy, you might want to rent/buy this film.

    The video quality is good overall.

    The audio quality is good, albeit quite front-heavy.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Seven Years in Tibet: R 2 - Ron Stevens
R1 DVD 10 - penguin
R1 Superbit edition - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.) REPLY POSTED